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Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Happy New Year!!

this is the place where lps are being talked about. it's important to talk about games being played on the internet.
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Nimono
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby Nimono » 1 week ago

Arctangent wrote: that would be "WRYYYYYYYY," which ... actually sounds more like "worryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy" than anything

keep in mind that it's a japanese onomatopoeia, and japanese doesn't ( unless i'm misremembering ) have that "assisting" r, at least not one that "assists" with consonants. so, both the w and the r are vocalized separately
Actually, in Japanese, it's "URIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII", but for some reason it's transliterated as "WRYYYYYYYYYYYY" instead. Dunno why.

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freshtalk
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby freshtalk » 1 week ago

Reach For The Submit really nailed the triumphant feeling of reaching the top just like in Celeste. le Reservoir meanwhile invokes I wanna something like Metroid or Cave Story with it's aesthetic, just a fun trek through some dark and dangerous places, but maybe it's just because I have those on my mind.
Classtoise wrote: And today on "oh man let's make fun of marginalized groups", the second level starts with what appears to be an "I identify as X" transphobic joke.
Yeah, I definitely raised an eyebrow at that... A part of me wants to assume the best that it's a very specific reference to some weird game opening, but I'm not necessarily holding my breath.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby Classtoise » 1 week ago

Negativity aside Reach for The Summit was gorgeous and I loved it. It's not often I can't figure out the vanilla assets used!

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby Arctangent » 1 week ago

glad to see i tuned in just in time for my favorite part of these contests, aka the "vanilla?!?!?!" part

less glad to see that it somehow perfectly aligned with bigoted jokes being shoved in every other level. seriously, guys

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FPzero
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

15th, Reach ForThe Summit, by WalkingPlaces
79.75/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 41/60
Creativity: 21/30
Aesthetics: 9/10

Total: 71/100

Comments:
We sure could do with some Celeste ports on the site, couldn't we? I think that the 1st, 2nd, and last sections of the level were pretty good but the 3rd was very weak and I'll come back to it shortly. Visually, it looked almost perfectly like Celeste does. I'm pretty impressed actually. I think the 2nd section was the strongest one since the moving boxes and ball n' chains made for interesting setups when paired with the hurt blocks. I didn't like the bowser fireball generator though, especially as you climb up the right side of the level. They had a tendency to get in the way of the spin jumps required to progress. I liked the little "water" dream clouds in the 1st part, but wish they'd been used a bit more because otherwise the level didn't really have a special *something* going for it. The last segment did verticality pretty well and even had some good cape usage to scale the summit.

The 3rd section though... I understand what part of Celeste you're trying to echo but the dream segment is already one of the weakest parts of the game, purely there to help set up the narrative. Representing it here with some trial and error cape flying with no enemies or meaningful obstacles for a substantial amount of time was just boring in the end. It looked nice but had nothing going for it. I would've loved to see your take on the Mirror Temple or something else instead.

I'd be amiss if I didn't mention the fact the timer is obscured for some of the level's segments. I think this is a very bad thing because as it turns out I entered the final part with just over 100 seconds to spare and was surprised by it. Additionally, and critically, the midpoint *did not work*. I know there were shortcuts provided on the overworld but that's not really an excuse for not testing your midpoint. That's a critical flaw. A lot of little problems stack up in this level and the beautiful aesthetics can't hold it up forever.
Ryaa:
Design: 57/60
Creativity: 26/30
Aesthetics: 9/10

Total: 92/100

Review: To think that somebody would actually think to bring a Celeste adaptation to Super Mario World. I was completely caught off guard when I entered this level because the atmosphere is so on point. It actually feels like what Celeste would be like if Mario was meant to be the main character. The Celestial Resort portion has to be my favorite part of course. However, I do think that some of the platforming in that section is a bit weird to do because of fireballs being shot at you from the right side once you're at that wall. The P-Switch portion in the first section was a tad bit weird as the blue blocks can be missed due to the rest of that section following the same color scheme. What I'm really appreciative of is that the HUD is made to be invisible in the first two sections. It gives the atmosphere much more of a calming and less distracting feeling. The third section where you fly is a cute recreation but I would argue that it is a tad bit on the boring side compared to the rest of the level's flow.

This level is one of the best ones I've played. There are some downsides as I've mentioned before but I think it really captures how Celeste feels in a way that makes it feel new and fresh.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 50/60
CREATIVITY| 21/30
AESTHETICS| 10/10
TOTAL | 81/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
wth where are the strawberries

First off, FANTASTIC job on recreating Celeste graphics using vanilla resources. I
had no idea that was possible. If I could give you 15 points for aesthetics I
would, but unfortunately it caps at 10.

The design is solid too. It has some good platforming at the beginning, and a cute
puzzle element with the "space juice". I find it interesting that most of the
earlier challenges are spinjumping based; I guess it's to make it very athletic
like actual Celeste levels since Mario doesn't have a wall jump. Nonetheless it was
all quite fun.

I really liked how you incorporated the feather powerup, first as simple flying
challenges and then as some interesting platforming near the end.

My few issues are that the clouds did not look like you could stand on them, and
that there were too many fire flowers in the hotel section. It's also a bit simple
creativity wise if the Celeste aesthetic is set aside, and it's long enough that I
ran out of time on my first run.

Overall though, this is phenomenal in the graphics department and very solid in
design.
morsel:
45
20
10
75/100
This level did not quite win me over. I wish I could like it more. It was either too ambitious, or not polished enough (to the extent that it was often exasperating). If you die after getting the midpoint, you will get to skip a lot of the things you had to do--if I had known this the first time I got the midpoint, it would have saved me running out of time (the timer is not visible for most of the level). The level does look incredible, but it makes lots of choices that impeded my enjoyment of the level. There is a door you have to enter at the extreme left edge. There is water outside that is black with flashing things in it. There is something not water indoors that is black with flashing things in it. The brown blocks are coloured differently from normal so it may not immediately be clear where to go after hitting the p-switch. The cloud in the final section does not look like something you can stand on (comparing it to the other objects in that area), and I wasted a try following the funicular line. The spikes in the final area do not quite match their graphic. There are other minor nuisances aside from these graphical quirks. You get a fire flower indoors, but there is nothing to kill with it. When you get the first flower, you have to have remembered where the ground was since you will not get another chance to look before dropping. There is a generator and you have to stand at the side of the screen. Sometimes the ball'n'chain and the statue shooting above can synchronise awkwardly, or the generator does with another ball'n'chain you would like to bounce on. There was an awkwardly big jump in the final area to land beside a spike. These things add up; inattention to detail can detract from the playing experience. Anyway, stepping back, the level feels too big and unfocussed. The first half is much stronger than the second half. (The bowser statue area was the best elaborated.) The second half has a sort of flying theme, but it was not executed well. The dedicated flying area did not amount to much and it felt like it was just there for you to waste time (successfully so for me) as you are bamboozled by the tileset (and you have to make two tries at everything since you will not know where the holes in the ceiling will be). The two flying obstacles in the final area felt as though they were just filling in the space. In the rest of the final area, there was no real development of ideas. At the filter, I could keep a feather by pressing select.
14th, le Reservoir, by Blind Devil
80.00/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 53/60
Creativity: 24/30
Aesthetics: 8/10

Total: 85/100

Comments:
I made the level much harder on myself by assuming I needed to hit the p-switch block with a throw block to beat the level. It was only after a bunch of deaths when I finally hit the block that I realized it was just for the Dragon Coin and moon. With that in mind, my opinion of the level goes up (I'd been getting a little frustrated and the difficulty seemed to have spiked in the second half but since it was only hard if you were going for bonuses I'm more ok with it). An extra mushroom after the midpoint would've been nice though.

The use of the Message Box to make Layer 3 vanish as an actual mechanic was very cool! It was nice that you had to go into the sublevels to get it to "refill" the reservoir. Smart idea to make the level go right-to-left to take advantage of the tidal movements too. Paragoombas made for surprisingly dangerous enemies underwater, more so than fish in some cases. I think you managed to make a nice variety of setups using just the water level gimmick and a few enemy types, and the level wasn't long enough to outstay its welcome. Visually, I liked the use of the midway point bars as caution tape and the boss doors as girders. Really helped make the place seem industrial. This was a level that was of a good length, but left me wanting for more. Good job!
Ryaa:
Design: 47/60
Creativity: 18/30
Aesthetics: 5/10

Total: 70/100

Review: I'm not really so sure how I feel about this level. It has really good ideas but I feel like these ideas could have taken some sort of twist later on rather than repeat in a near exact setting. I do think this is a pretty good level despite that. The weird thing is, I can't really name a part that was particularly my favorite due to the point I mentioned where the ideas don't take any sort of turn. The level itself was basically just like platforming -> autoscroll -> platforming -> autoscroll -> platforming with nothing completely eyecatching. The one thing I did like however, was that the water slowly rising in the autoscroll sections seemed to give depth to the water being back in the main section after you press the switches which was neat. There was also this one part in the second section variant that wasn't an autoscroll where you're given a powerup and then a hard-to-see thwomp was placed immediately after behind a thick pillar. Not sure why this was done but once more it's one of those situations where a person playing for the first time may not know that this is there unless they already knew it was there prior to.

Overall, I think the only things I actually liked about this level are the usage of colors and most of the first section and the last part of the non-autoscroll second section. My advice here is to not include design ideas that are specifically easy for the creator but ignoring the fact that there are going to be people that play this for the first time and won't know about everything that's included.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 48/60
CREATIVITY| 25/30
AESTHETICS| 10/10
TOTAL | 83/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
the water off switch is rather talkative today

Such clever use of flying galoombas and tides. I love how the level loops around
itself whenever you turn off the water, and loops around itself again when you turn
it on. Each pass is a different experience with the thwomp, fish, and galoomba
setups.

One unfortunate thing about this is that once you've seen the first half, you've
pretty much seen the whole level. I wish there was something surprising in the
second half than just dragon coin puzzles. Speaking of which, man is it hard to get
that last one with all the thwomps and fish everywhere getting in the way of your
throw block.

Luckily, the gimmicks demonstrated are quite creative and the aesthetics are really
neat, so this level is still pretty great as a whole.
morsel:
51
21
10
82/100
Good level. The background reminds me of Mega Man X; perhaps the conical hills do not fit in very well and could have been mechanical structures. Some of the thwmops coming at you from the top of the screen felt unfair. Some things were a bit tight compared to the other obstacles (e.g. if you wait to see which path you should take in the second autoscroller). I liked how the goombas were slightly dangerous in this level. The drop down after the first switch is a bit iffy since there may be a goomba where you land.
I don't know what the plan for the Top 10 is in terms of video length, but I will say a number of top 10 levels are long enough or in-depth enough that, if you've already been playing for a while you may wish to not One More Level into them. This doesn't mean they're super hard or anything, just that you might end up with a longer play session if you choose to play more than one level while recording. Play it by ear and see how you're feeling, of course.

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raocow
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby raocow » 1 week ago

very good to know!
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FPzero
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

Yep. I just mentioned it because I know you sometimes like to do the Top X levels as their own individual videos, but I obviously don't know what your plans are here so I figured best to say something now.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Final Hour

Postby thatguyif » 1 week ago

Nimono wrote: Actually, in Japanese, it's "URIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII", but for some reason it's transliterated as "WRYYYYYYYYYYYY" instead. Dunno why.
W is a semivowel. In certain dialects/accents, the glide is enough to make it hard to distinguish between certain U sounds, which is its closest vowel equivalent. Y is also a semivowel, and the same effect with I sounds. The transliteration works well in this situation.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- The Next Entry

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

13th, Shrine of Souls, by Gloomy
80.25/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 50/60
Creativity: 24/30
Aesthetics: 8/10

Total: 82/100

Comments:
It was cute how you used a falling Layer 2 to "save" those Dry Bones's souls. It worked nicely because by the time you get back to them, enough time has passed for the Layer 2 to sink down and the illusion is complete. I'm pretty sure I've seen the ghostly rising arch ledges somewhere else before, but regardless they're well used here as a camera trick. And it was neat how combining them with the falling Layer 2 made it so that new ledges would appear and be in position as a rising platform as you backtracked to the door that was now open. I think you ended up making really good use of big Hotheads as enemies, especially in combination with the arch ledges, throw block falls, and winged ? blocks. I loved the graphical replacement for Pokeys and the hopping flames jumping out of the candelabras were a nice visual touch as well. The only real suggestion I have is that the final segment right before the goal felt a bit unfinished or tacked on, and I would've liked to see one more soul search in its place before the level finished up.
Ryaa:
Design: 43/60
Creativity: 20/30
Aesthetics: 9/10

Total: 72/100

Review: I'm not so sure how to feel about this one. Seeing that the gimmicks and graphic choices here are the exact same as the level "Unsettling Bastion" from VLDC9, I'm going to go ahead and assume that this is supposed to be a sequel of some sort which is neat. What's unfortunate to say is that I didn't like the level design that much. More specifically at the beginning there wasn't much that felt interesting and having the fireballs and Pokeys land on you with no real challenge or interesting setups in between felt a little off. The Boo blocks being nearly the same color as the stone blocks that they are near was a bit misleading. Since you spawn away from where you can see the sprite, it took me a moment to actually realize that there wasn't some sort of hidden block or something. I did like that the moving coin indicated that the ground there was solid. The third section was okay but nothing really gave me that spark of joy and awe while playing it since the taks you had to do in order to trigger the layer 2 were pretty basic and not too intriguing.

My biggest thing here is that the idea of finding the Dry Bones' soul is an intriguing concept that could have been fleshed out much more in order to actually feel new and not recycled in a way each time you come across a new setup. On a more positive note, I adore the colors and aesthetic design outside of the unclear distinction between the vines you can and can't climb on.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 49/60
CREATIVITY| 24/30
AESTHETICS| 9/10
TOTAL | 82/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
gloomhaven

What an adorable level. A lot of ideas seem inspired by VLDC9's Unsettling Bastion,
but it feels more puzzle based and atmospheric. The puzzles are well crafted around
boos and layer 2, and it's cool how finding souls changes the environment. In
addition, there is a nice difficulty curve, and the dragon coin side areas are
a nice touch.

One thing though is that the puzzles seem a bit too straightforward and easy. They
are pretty linear aside from the ones where you need to find the transforming boos.
The action segments involving the pokeys and fires were also not that amazing, but
they're not bad.

At the end of the day, this is a nice sequel to Unsettling Bastion.
morsel:
55
20
10
85/100
This is a very nice sequel to an old favourite, though if I am being honest I prefer that old favourite. The atmosphere is perfect. The level plays almost completely smoothly, except for the one part where you can easily destroy both shells by accident (if you have a fire flower) before you have understood what the level wants from you. There are some clever uses of sprites, and double uses (the two hotheads you avoid from above on the ledge and from below on the ascending ledge).
12th, Greystone Grotto, by Centipede
80.75/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 54/60
Creativity: 28/30
Aesthetics: 7/10

Total: 91/100

Comments:
You really used conveyors and Bowser Statues in some creative ways, and the addition of Layer 2 only strengthed the level. I thought it was especially clever how you "scooped" away some statues in the final part of the level, by letting a layer 2 platform come down under a stack of them, and pull them away from the path they were blocking. It was similarly cool how the middle segments of the level were both in the same part of the level, just coming from different ends with different layer 2 commands to dictate how the player move through the sublevel. I'm not really sure how you got the podoboos to jump away as high as they do, because I looked in LM expecting that it was a big level and they were just set really high up for a jump height but that wasn't the case. Then again, they were some kind of unused podoboo so who knows.

Anyway, the level was extremely good and I had a blast playing it. You did a great job with it, and the level looked nice even with only minor graphical additions. Very well done.
Ryaa:
Design: 47/60
Creativity: 18/30
Aesthetics: 4/10

Total: 69/100

Review: Another weird one. At first I was thrown off due to the level having "Grotto" in the name. The level itself has challenges that seem a bit specific in some cases. For example, notice how in the cave section, there are places where you wouldn't really know how long a platform is going to take to raise until you either see it happen or die a couple times trying. The rest of the level is pretty solid though. Neat platforming mechanics and things that keep you on your feet. Though the one thing that stands out in a bad way to me is the fact that you can accidentally reset the cave room section by going back to the midpoint if you aren't aware that you're going backwards. I feel as though something could have been added to the Layer 2 that could cover the pipe to prevent this.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 51/60
CREATIVITY| 27/30
AESTHETICS| 8/10
TOTAL | 86/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
is this JUMP?

I love the meticulous obstacle design. I found the outside section to be really
good; all of the enemies had a clear purpose and it's fun performing everything
correctly. The lotus, bowser statue, and rotating platform segments in particular
were fun to navigate.

The inside section is also good, but a few things caught me off guard. I wasn't
sure how long I was supposed to stand on the sinking platforms, and there's a
thwimp that didn't jump for a long time which is awkward. I really liked how the
level has meaningful and clever backtracking, but this isn't clear after the
midpoint. Finally, the section with the podoboos is super creative, but I always
feel scared going under them because I don't know when they'll come down.

While this level has some truly one of a kind obstacles, it has a few flaws in
terms of clarity in its design. I still found this to be a great level though.
morsel:
48
25
6
79/100
Conveyors seem popular this year. There are many interesting things to notice about them (e.g. mario does not move with a bowser statues). This level is much better than some of the others in exploring the possibilities. There were nice effects with a springboard, pokey, bowser statues, and a lotus. I loved the part with the row of spike-tops where each one gathered itself before sprinting forward. Parts of the level seemed unfinished or insufficiently polished. When I got a cape, I was able to fly over the level straight to the midpoint. The descending layer 2 part has some unexpected things (a line of frozen podoboos; a thwimp who is hesitant to jump). Later on there are more podoboos; they seem rather unreliable in their behaviour. There was a line of four regressing bowser statues and they only shot occasional fire. There was a pipe that took me back to the midpoint; I would rather not have gone back (later I see by some magic it was the same area I had been in before; still, the pipe could have been blocked off perhaps). These kind of things knocked the score down.
As was mentioned by FrozenQuills in the youtube comments, Shrine of Souls is actually a sequel to Gloomy's VLDC9 entry, Unsettling Bastion. The ghostly rising arch ledges were a primary gimmick in that level, and I was happy to see them return. It was just a really fun level.

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FrozenQuills
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- The Next Entry

Postby FrozenQuills » 1 week ago

anyway as we get closer to the top 10 we get closer to more judge favorites

FPZero's is 9th place
Mine is 3rd place
Ryaa's is 2nd place
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SMBX Tileset Compiler and Separator
The boss entry that made me eat a shoe.
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5th place counter: 5
(SMBX Forums CC11, SMBX Forums CC12, Endgame Madness Contest, SMWC Kaizo Contest 2016, SMWC 24hr Contest 2018)

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- The Next Entry

Postby raocow » 1 week ago

oh wow none is the first. it's funny when that happens
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby S.N.N. » 1 week ago

The whole concept behind Vanish Castle is really fascinating. I have a decent(-ish) knowledge of SMW’s quirks, but I have no idea what sort of trickery was done here. Great stuff.

Also, if I recall from the user’s contest thread on SMWC, I think he said that this was the first fully completed level he’s done. I’m not sure how many partial attempts he’s made, but that point alone is seriously impressive.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby ft029 » 1 week ago

It's amazing how many times level designers "steal" ideas from others, but then improve upon it. Usually I steal ideas, but I am flattered to have my ideas stolen from. I feel both levels today took a slice of inspiration from my vldcx level, swissotel:

Taking up sprite slots (raocow is right about the explanation. Honestly, I am probably not the first to abuse this)

No spinjumping (explanation: Mario touches invisible yoshi, which doesn't do anything, except when A is pressed, Mario's y position teleports to the invisible yoshi's y position, which results in death here.)

This isn't to name countless other inspirations, too. (For Harmonious Heaven, I see some traces of "Cutting in Line" from vldc9.) In the results thread, I always see high-placing individuals thanking other people for inspiring them, and it's quite wholesome.
Mosts Awards:
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby Piesonscreations » 1 week ago

Every romhack should start with an UGH instead of a coin sound.
Great levels today.
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

11th, Vanish Castle, by ECS.98
82.50/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 52/60
Creativity: 24/30
Aesthetics: 6/10

Total: 82/100

Comments:
So I have no idea how you accomplished basically any of the gimmicks in this level but I am impressed. I'd better go try and understand what I just played through. (I went to go check at this point) Oh wow, THAT is clever manipulation of sprite limits. Really interesting that you can overload the level with sprites and cause everything else in the sublevel to despawn. That's some super technical creativity. As for the design itself, the only nitpick I really have is that the opening segment where you have to outlast the grinders on the falling layer 2 seemed out of place compared to everything else, though I understand you needed the layer 2 to be at the bottom before letting Mario continue so giving the player something to do while they wait is, at least, a good thing. I got worried when the 1up checkpoint popped up and I knew my timer was getting low, but thankfully I was able to get through the rest and the Big Boo fight with enough time to spare. The level looked and sounded pretty basic, but I liked the little animated "candles". They were a cute touch.
Ryaa:
Design: 48/60
Creativity: 26/30
Aesthetics: 7/10

Total: 81/100

Review:

This level was so fun to play. I think that the overall gimmick of the level was properly expanded on and that's what made this level feel so unique to me. I love that you set your rooms up in ways where if you have to move backwards, it doesn't feel like a tedious mirror of the obstacles faces while moving through the sections primarily. The color choices for the layer 2 tiles and NPC pass-through tiles really do the job with letting the player know what's safe and what isn't. Outside of those changes, the graphics are fairly simple. One thing that really caught my eye in terms of aesthetics are the candle flames and spiders hanging from webs in some sections. I have never seen someone use escalators in such an unexpected way so when I first saw them I was like "No way."

The setbacks I did have mainly involved the Boss and the long sets of 1 coin blocks that gave you nothing productive when hitting them. The Boss itself does utilize the second half of the gimmick, though it would have been cool (if possible) to include usage of the first half of the gimmick set. There is nothing in the boss as it is now that feels truly challenging or memorable.

Though I do feel that some setups could have been expanded on a bit more, I think this level really achieved what it was going for. It's a good length and it isn't frustrating to deal with. If I could really compare it to anything, I'd say that this level reminds me a lot of the hack "JUMP" which had some pretty neat castles that fit this design aesthetic.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 49/60
CREATIVITY| 27/30
AESTHETICS| 8/10
TOTAL | 84/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
how to utterly destroy smw's memory management system

This is pretty great! I loved how you took complete control over how SMW spawns
sprites to make such a creative presentation. The rooms are all well designed with
and without enemies, and the little enemy puzzles were a treat. The enemy looping
sections were also very good.

However, while the enemy despawning trick and enemy puzzles are cool, it's really
not much different than entering a different room or just having a differently
arranged set of obstacles. The amount of things you can do with messing with sprite
memory also makes the level a bit unfocused, and so it doesn't fully develop on
each of its gimmicks aside from the enemy looping. Still, the creative touch of
messing with sprite management helps with the creativity.

The boss was a bit of a let down however. You basically just do the same thing 3
times. There's also lag, probably due to how the key spawning works.

Overall though, this is a very creative use of LM3; great job.
morsel:
50
28
5
The level begins with a VLDC11 staple: an opening area with peculiar decorations. The switch seems like it must work by magic. Let me scroll the screen to the left so I can see the enemy vanish before my very eyes---the enemy stays where he is. A magician never explains his tricks. (Of course you can just ignore the switch and go above it to its horizontal position or scroll right some way before it.) Once I have stopped being silly, I notice the level is very well done. I've seen this throw block gate before but there were some nice variants on it here. Again, the wrapping effect has been seen elsewhere in this contest but it is nicely handled here; I particularly like the knight's move thwimps and the dance of the bowser statues. The boss fight is an interesting concept, but it is rather repetitive, and there is not much to killing three blue koopas. The decorations were unnecessary and I think you could have done without most of the signs as well, they often seemed rather intrusive.
10th, HARMONIOUS HEAVEN, by Emerald Shell
82.75/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 51/60
Creativity: 26/30
Aesthetics: 8/10

Total: 85/100

Comments:
A really nice level with a bit a variety to it. It was neat how you introduced the bob-ombs being used to clear enemies with optional stuff in the first half before using them again as mandatory elements. Though I wasn't sure if an extended puzzle segment was great for the flow of the level. It didn't turn out to be too bad, but I think I definitely preferred the 1st and 3rd sections of the level better because you were continually moving instead of slowing down to figure out puzzles. At least the puzzles were good. I liked the one where you had to use the bomb to knock away one enemy and then quickly move it into the right position for the explosion. Retries in there were generous too and the transparent clouds were a nice way to add to the puzzles. The final section is strange because of that Yoshi glitch that prevents spinjumps but it wasn't abused to make a really difficult section or anything so it was a pleasant way to wrap up the level. One visual thing: I'm not sure if I liked the Pokey replacements or not. They stuck out a little because they were the only enemy graphic that got changed. I honestly think you could've just kept normal pokey graphics for them.
Ryaa:
Design: 49/60
Creativity: 21/30
Aesthetics: 10/10

Total: 80/100

Review: I actually like this level quite a bit. The palette was good, the music helps set the atmosphere, and the platforming is pretty solid (For the most part). The one part that I didn't really enjoy playing all that much was the part of the puzzle section where you had to keep the mushroom in order to progress. It's cool that the different reset doors allow you to get a new mushroom though that didn't really help me have much more fun than I originally did though this could just be personal taste. Overall this level is very clever. Using the the double Yoshi glitch in such a way really adds a lot to that section specifically. Though I feel it doesn't any anything to the rest of the level. If the level is supposed to be a puzzle level, then it would have been cool to see more puzzle features using that mechanic. Unfortunately this level also suffers from out of place gimmicks that don't seem to merge together due to some sort of creative constraint whether it was a shortage of time or something else. Either way, I do think this level was pretty good for what it is.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 53/60
CREATIVITY| 26/30
AESTHETICS| 9/10
TOTAL | 88/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
bombs aren't very harmonious but ok

This is great! I love the level's focus on bomb puzzles; each one is interesting
and very forgiving if you mess up. I also enjoyed the cloud and scaling platform
side gimmicks, even if they weren't really intertwined with the bombs. They
provided good breaks from the main gimmick.

The level generates a difficulty curve by making the puzzles more complicated, and
then by removing the spinjump function, which is very clever.

My only big issue is that the last dragon coin can easily be bypassed by tanking
the spiny hit. I think most players will find that out by accident.

Still, this very well designed and fun, awesome job.
morsel:
50
18
10
78/100
It seemed strongly reminiscent of some other levels from the past in some respects, and perhaps played out as a sort of mixture. The bomb theme was the strongest point and was developed well. The no spin jumping platforming was well handled. Taken as a whole, perhaps there is a slight lack of focus between the three parts. The shortcut was not marked all that clearly. One of the fuzzies is completely underneath the cloud, posing no danger. The blue green spring looks solid to the player.
I thought I had some screenshots of Vanish Castle laying around that I used for showing off how it was made in my video, but I can't find them, so if you don't mind the unintentional self-shill, I have a few screenshots of how the magic was made in one of my videos.
Last edited by FPzero on 27 Nov 2019, 20:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby thatguyif » 1 week ago

Piesonscreations wrote: Every romhack should start with an UGH instead of a coin sound.
Great levels today.
What about a fart sound

Or a quack

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleventeen Ten

Postby Awoo » 1 week ago

thatguyif wrote:
Piesonscreations wrote: Every romhack should start with an UGH instead of a coin sound.
Great levels today.
What about a fart sound

Or a quack
I "fart-liked" this post, if that counts nyoro~n
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby Implo » 1 week ago

Um, FPZero, you switched morcel's comments. His comment about Vanish Castle is in Harmonious Heaven level and for other level in Vanish Castle.

So now will be good levels that also look good. If I remember correctly vanishing gimmick works, because of getting to screen with lots of keys that are hidden off screen. The reason that you can't get into locked door without a key is (I think) because it's blocked by snake block (or something like that) and after bringing key together with lots of keys off screen, it doesn't load this snake block. As for the boss I liked it the most from first version, because for each key, difficulty of getting it was rising.

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

Yeah I got alerted to it and was probably fixing them right as you made your post!

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby ECS98 » 1 week ago

Hey there everyone! I'm new here xD
Well, i accepted raocow's invite, and now i'm officially here for my Dev Commentary on Vanish Castle!
So, let's take an in-depth look at my level, as well as some other miscellaneous info like things that inspired it and decisions i made during the design process.
Also, HUGE! post warning, i'm kinda known for writing a book whenever i make a post, and this one won't be different lol (and in this one i got quite far, oh boy! Don't open all those spoiler tags at once!!)
I put all the explanation about how the level works in spoiler tags, so it's easier to locate. There's images as well, for easier visualization. So if you came here just for that (and want to skip all the stuff i put effort into writing... Although i can't blame you if you want, because this thing is huge! xD), go to the spoiler tags at the bottom of the post, more specifically, in the "And now, revealing the magic" sections.

First off, although it might feel like a bit of self-advertising xD, i'll be linking to a few pages to complement the information i'll write here.
This is a link to my level's thread in the VLDC11 subforum on SMWCentral: Vanish Castle Thread
There you can basically take a look at the level's change log as i posted while i was updating it, as well as see all the people that gave me some great feedback and really helped with making the level what it is now!
And here is a link to my Youtube Channel: ECS.98 Youtube Channel
I posted 4 videos on Vanish Castle, each from different versions i made during development, so you can more easily see how the level changed.

Now, before jumping into the explanations, i'll start with answering a few posts here, especially because this will already lead to a few of the points i want to talk about:

Answering S.N.N
S.N.N. wrote: The whole concept behind Vanish Castle is really fascinating. I have a decent(-ish) knowledge of SMW’s quirks, but I have no idea what sort of trickery was done here. Great stuff.

Also, if I recall from the user’s contest thread on SMWC, I think he said that this was the first fully completed level he’s done. I’m not sure how many partial attempts he’s made, but that point alone is seriously impressive.
I gotta say, sometimes i'm still impressed at myself from being able to come up with such an unique idea and pull it off as nicely as i did, and it's comments like this that make me feel that way, when i see people who have years (or even a decade) of experience with SMW hacking still getting speechless at what my level accomplished! Really, i'm absolutely flattered to read comments like this!
Also, your last info is correct, this was indeed the first full level i completed and released.
I started messing around with Lunar Magic by May 2018, mostly reading many of the tutorials i could find and doing some test levels to get used to most basic features of LM, and later testing some gimmicks and stuff. Then i did one attempt at making a full level, but scrapped it partially through because i wasn't really satisfied with the result (that was around August 2018). After that i basically didn't do much with LM until VLDC11 started, which is when i came back to it and started working on my entry.
Answering ft029
ft029 wrote: It's amazing how many times level designers "steal" ideas from others, but then improve upon it. Usually I steal ideas, but I am flattered to have my ideas stolen from. I feel both levels today took a slice of inspiration from my vldcx level, swissotel:
Taking up sprite slots (raocow is right about the explanation. Honestly, I am probably not the first to abuse this)
No spinjumping (explanation: Mario touches invisible yoshi, which doesn't do anything, except when A is pressed, Mario's y position teleports to the invisible yoshi's y position, which results in death here.)
This isn't to name countless other inspirations, too. (For Harmonious Heaven, I see some traces of "Cutting in Line" from vldc9.) In the results thread, I always see high-placing individuals thanking other people for inspiring them, and it's quite wholesome.
Yea, that's a great thing to see! And indeed, my level was inspired by your VLDCX entry! Even more than that actually, it only exists thanks to that one room in Swissotel! So i'm really thankful to you, as your level was what made all of this possible! (There was also another level that heavily inspired it, Swiss Hotel by Morsel on VLDC9, but that will be introduced later in the post)

I've always been fascinated by these things like creating entirely new mechanics in games, working with limitations and making creative use of resources to make things that seem impossible at first. This likely comes from some earlier times when i loved messing up with glitches to break games and doing all kinds of stuff that would normally be impossible (I used to do this a lot in Zelda ALTTP).
So when i came across a video of Swissotel, i was absolutely speechless! It was probably around December 2018 or January 2019, so i was already used to basic LM stuff and some common terms in SMW hacking like "vanilla", and i couldn't believe Swissotel was a vanilla level! So i went to try and understand all mechanics used in it.
Fast forward to VLDC11 start, and i decided to enter it, so i had to think of a level idea. One of the ideas i had was to make a level inspired by SMB3's 7-Fortress 1, the empty fortress, which would have 2 identical rooms, except one of them would have no sprites, and the player would have to alternate between them. Later i had another idea for a level inspired by Daizo Dee Von's 100 Rooms of Enemies, which would use Swissotel's Throw Block gate to make some "kill all enemies in order to progress" sections. So after doing some tests, i had a moment of brilliance, and i thought about combining both ideas into 1 level! And thus "Vanish Castle" was born!
So this was when i started to design my entry, and as such i think it's the appropriate time to break down each section and reveal how the magic was done (I'll also be posting some images below each explanation). One thing to keep in mind about this level is that i had to take full control of how the level would play, as even the slightest slip could break an entire section! So i'll also be explaining some of the decisions i made based on this.
So, here we go!

Intro + First Section: Vanishing Introduction
Gotta say, i just love how effective this first section was! The best thing when i watch someone playing my level is seeing their reaction to the Thwomp just vanishing! It's always priceless! xD
Both the intro and the first section use the first idea i had with the vanishing gimmick, making sprites disappear to open a passage. In the intro section i could make a simple setup with the Thwomp blocking the exit, since Mario is small and can't damage boost through it. For the first section however, i wanted to make a full section, and since i gave the player some power-ups, i had to use sprites that completely block an area in order to prevent damage boosting. I used On/Off Switches along with On/Off Layer 2 so the vanishing mechanic would be used to unblock On/Off Switches rather than the exit, and as a bonus i could use the Layer 2 in order to change the way the level plays on the way back after triggering the Vanish Switch, since going back through an empty area would be kinda boring.
This section didn't really have any major changes from its initial version, although it did have quite a lot of minor changes, mainly to make sure that the player wouldn't need to wait for the Layer 2 to rise, which was a problem in earlier versions.
Also, fun fact, when designing this section, i didn't really know what to do for the actual platforming since i hadn't really designed levels before, so i just threw in some castle sprites and arranged them in setups that i found cool (and symmetric, as you might've noticed, i'm completely obsessed with symmetry in my level design lol)

And now, revealing the magic:
The Vanish Switch: That one has been done by filling all sprite slots offscreen. There are 20 keys positioned above the screen so that you spawn them right as you step on the switch. And it's placed far enough from other sprites so they aren't on screen when the magic happens (I actually tested it to know how far everything should be set up. There needs to be at least 10 tiles between the last sprite and the Vanish Switch, and exactly 10 tiles between the Switch and the keys)
That way the sprite slots are filled with the keys (which are permanent sprites, so they don't despawn) for the entirety of the section.
Intro Section Vanish Switch
First Section Vanish Switch
Second Section: Sprite Looping Introduction
This section, unlike the previous, went through some major changes throughout development.
For this section i wanted to think of something new i could bring, and right from the start i remembered another really creative VLDC level (which shares quite some similarities with Swissotel): Swiss Hotel by Morsel. That level had a really interesting gimmick about making sprites respawning immediately after despawning, so i went after that entry to study it and try to find out how that gimmick works. After a while i figured it out, but it was quite limited (it only worked on vertical levels), so i decided to use it for only 1 obstacle... but in the end that obstacle didn't work at all... I would've given up on that gimmick, if it wasn't for another entry's thread, which used that same mechanic but in a horizontal level! I was impressed to see it working on a horizontal level, so i went back to testing and trying to figure that out as well. It took some time, but i managed to get it working! And as such i was able to make a complete horizontal section using that gimmick!
So this section was an introduction to the Sprite Respawn Loop, having each setup separated from one another so the player could tackle them one at a time. (But it still had the Vanish Switch present)
This section also previously had a P-Switch the player needed to take in order to open the path to the Vanish Switch, as well as some backtracking in order to get to the exit pipe, but later both were removed, the first because it was unecessary, and the second because there was no reason to go back through an entire empty section.

And now, revealing the magic:
Sprite Respawn Looping: this is a very interesting effect of the way sprites spawn, but probably the trickiest to explain. (Also, keep in mind i don't have knowledge of actual SMW programming, so my explanation is based on observing how the game works)
Basically, the way sprites spawn is, there's an offscreen boundary (both horizontally and vertically) which spawns sprites once it scrolls into them. If a sprite despawns when that boundary is still on top of it, it will respawn immediately.
This effect is actually always present in the original game, but the specific setup for the loop is highly unlikely to happen since when you play a level you scroll the screen, as such scrolling the spawning boundary, so you usually won't have the boundary still on top of a sprite when it despawns.
As i said before, when i studied Swiss Hotel, i found the gimmick was quite limited because it only worked on vertical levels. That happens because on horizontal levels, the boundary to spawn sprites vertically is really high, in fact so high that it goes beyond the height of a horizontal, making it impossible to place a sprite on it in LM. Meanwhile, in vertical levels that boundary is 3 tiles higher than the screen position, so it was possible to place sprites on it.
So how did i manage to make it work in a horizontal level? That's thanks to a new feature of LM3.0, which allows us to use vertical sprite spawn range in a horizontal level, thus allowing me to place the sprites into the spawning boundary, and causing the respawning effect to work. (The height to place the sprite is either 17 or 18 tiles from the bottom of the level, which amount exactly depends on the sprite)
Also, an interesting fact, since the spawn range was set to a horizontal level, i couldn't place the keys for the Vanish Switch on the top of the screen like i did previously, since they would be too high to spawn (anything placed higher than the Thwimps/Dry Bones in the image won't spawn), so i placed them inside the walls, hidden behind priority enabled tiles.
Sprite Respawn Loop Setup
Second Section Vanish Switch
Third Section: Throw Block Puzzles
This section is the only that didn't change at all during development.
So, this section uses the gimmick that inspired this whole level! Since i had already developed the Vanish Switch quite a bit, i wanted a change in the way the level would play, so i thought this would be a great time to introduce the Throw Block gimmick, especially since the Midway Gate could mark the exact point where the level shifts from one sprite slot gimmick to the next. Not only would this be a really cool way to emulate a "Kill all enemies to proceed" section, but it would also be a nod to the level that made it all possible!
This section didn't have any problems since the gimmick was pretty much the same as used in Swissotel, and i had already thought of how i'd make the puzzles, the only thing i had to watch out for was to make sure the player could not despawn a sprite by scrolling it offscreen (most specifically on the one with the Grinders on clouds)
Also, fun fact, back at SomeGuy712x's level, raocow said something like "Is this a kill all the sprites section? It can't be right, i don't think that's possible in vanilla", little did he know that was possible and it was already coming on this same contest!

And now, revealing the magic:
Note: raocow figured this one out during the video.
Throw Block Gates: I used the same trick as the Vanish Switch, spawning keys offscreen to fill the sprite slots. (But this time, the amount of keys was different between each setup, since i had to take into account the sprites already used in the puzzle, refer to the images to see each setup)
Since the Throw Block spawns a sprite once grabbed, the sprite slots being full prevent you from grabbing it, as the sprite can't be spawned. But this time, there are enemies present onscreen, so when you kill one of them, you free 1 sprite slot, allowing you to grab the Throw Block and proceed.
Throw Block Gate 1
Throw Block Gate 2
Throw Block Gate 3
Throw Block Gate 4
Fourth Section: KeyDoor and Sprite Looping
This section had quite some major changes, in fact it was entirely redesigned in version 1.2!
So, for this section i started with one base idea, which is the KeyDoor. Based on some of my previous uses of the vanishing gimmick, i thought of a way to make it so a passage is closed, and can only be opened by bringing a key from another room. In fact, in the beginning it wasn't even the "Key Req" door seen in the video, it was just a Light Switch Block blocking access to where the door was (as can be seen in the video of version 1.0). Then later i had the idea to tweak the setup and basically emulate a KeyDoor like in SMB2/SMM, and i was extremely proud of this idea!
As for the design of this room however, it was nothing special, just a few spikes scattered around, and the room where you get the key was basically an obstacle course with Fire Breathing Bowser Statues. I had a lot of feedback mentioning this was the weakest section of the level, and then a Fan-Judge gave me a great idea for this section: to reuse the Sprite Looping!
And that's when i changed this section in version 1.2, entirely redesigning it and taking the opportunity to further develop the Sprite Respawn Loop (which is cool because the other section was only kind of an introduction). This time i used the gimmick in a section with a standard castle styled design, actually integrating the gimmicky setups into the section instead of working with separated setups like i did before!

And now, revealing the magic:
Key Locked Door: as i said, this was a way to emulate the KeyDoors from SMB2 and SMM, and again, i was so proud of this result!
The idea here is again based on sprite slots, with the keys offscreen to fill the sprite slots, and there is an Invisible Solid Block sprite (which is a sprite used in the vanilla game in the corner of the Switch Palace rooms) placed on top of the door, in a way that prevents Mario from entering it.
So when you come back to the same room with a Key, you're bringing 1 extra sprite into the room which already had the sprite limit full, and this prevents 1 sprite from spawning, and due to the way sprites spawn, from left to right, the rightmost sprite was the one that didn't spawn, which in this case was the Invisible Solid Block, so now you can enter the door!
Also, the top tile of the KeyDoor is an empty tile, because otherwise the player would be able to enter it as Small Mario, thus skipping the entire section to get the key. Luckily for me, the bottom tile of a door allows Mario to enter it even when big, so i was able to make it work!
KeyDoor setup
Boss Fight: Key Vending Machine (I just loved this name lol)
Alright, now the boss was tough to make! lol. It was the section that got changed the most in the entire level, and i had a hard time to come up with something that would work.
My initial plans for the boss came from the use of the Throw Block Gate gimmick since, well, Big Boo Boss is usually associated with Throw Blocks. So i wanted to make something that would work like the puzzles: kill an enemy, get a Throw Block, throw at the boss, repeat. But there was a problem, how to make it so i had to kill an enemy for every Throw Block in the fight? If it was just one enemy, the player would have unlimited access to the Throw Blocks after killing it, thus reducing the fight into a regular Big Boo. So i scrapped that and tried to go with a way to keep filling sprite slots, so that the player would have to worry about it for every Throw Block, which is when i tried to use an Eerie Generator (can be seen in the 1.0 video). But in the end that didn't work out as the generator was random, and the player wasn't able to kill the Eeries, and in the end the fight just turned into "Let's wait until the generator RNG allows me to actually play", so i scrapped that as well.
Then i had a really cool idea, to use the Sprite Respawn Loop to make the keys fall through the ceiling (and the ground), so the player had to grab it and throw at the boss. And since the sprite limit was full, only 1 key would spawn at a time. As for the design of the room, since i'm already using the sprite limit and Layer 2 to make the keys fall, all i could really add as obstacles were Layer 1 tiles, which in this case were spikes. (this can be seen in version 1.1). I then changed the design slightly in version 1.2 to add a bit of variety (since i received some feedback saying using only spikes as obstacles isn't a good way to threaten the player).
Then, close to the deadline was when i finally had the idea for the vending machine! It's a really cool idea not only because it manages to combine both gimmicks introduced in the level into a single setup, but also because it manages to accomplish my initial plans for the boss fight! (kill an enemy, get key, throw at the boss, repeat).
Also, with the design of the room, i was very careful to make sure the player couldn't screw it up and end up stuck. The ground below the boss is Mario Only, so the keys don't land on the spikes in case the player misses (also, if they fall in the pit they'll just respawn). The reset door was added when i noticed the player could get stuck if they threw the key back into the ceiling in a way that it would land up there, as such becoming unreachable (and since no new key/koopa would spawn while that key was still there, the player would be stuck).
The only problem i had with this room is that a few judges mentioned it was repetitive and not too interesting since all you do is kill 3 koopas, but that's what i could do since i had to keep everything under control.

And now, revealing the magic:
This one might not be too hard to figure out based on previous explanations, but let's go anyways!
Big Boo Bossfight: this was the "final test" of the level, not only for the player, but for me as the designer as well, where i managed to combine both gimmicks (the Vanishing Mechanic and the Sprite Respawn Loop) into 1 single setup!
The keys are placed in a way that allows them to respawn infinitely, just like in previous areas, but the sprite slots are full, so none of them spawn at first. So when you kill the Koopa, you're freeing one sprite slot, and the Key instantly spawns due to the respawn loop.
The Koopas aren't really respawning, i just placed multiple Koopas (50 in fact, just to be sure lol), but thanks to sprite slot manipulation, only 1 can spawn at a time.
Bossfight Vending Machine
And last, a quick note on aesthetics:
At first, aesthetics weren't really my focus with this level, not only because my main focus was on the design and creativity, but also because i didn't really have much experience with aesthetics (and i still don't lol), so i didn't have enough confidence to try doing much with it.
When i posted about the level, i got some suggestions about using a custom palette, which is when i changed the palettes to what they look like now. Then i also received some feedback from a Fan-Judge saying my level could still be improved in the aesthetics the most, and i decided to give it a try to come up with some decorations, the fences, the torches and stuff. I'm actually really proud of those torches! I just think they look so good!
There are some aesthetic choices that look kinda ugly in the level, like the use of the font with a black square behind it, but that was because, back then, the only tool i had ever tried was Lunar Magic, so i didn't even try using a graphics editor to get stuff like the Layer 3 font (which looks a lot better), or combining tilesets. That's also why the level had no custom music.
Oh boy, it's finished! Did i get carried away with this one lol
There was just so much stuff i could talk about! Some of this info wasn't really revealed at all before. So, there we go, an in-depth view of my level, basically as in-depth as it can be lol (I don't even know if i could try shortening something, and i don't really want to find out lol)
I need to rest...
Congratulations to whoever read this up to the end!

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Rising Butter

Postby Awoo » 1 week ago

"Rising Butter" sounds like it'd be a super interesting SNK secret boss move. What would that even entail? nyoro~n
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Rising Butter

Postby BobisOnlyBob » 1 week ago

Awoo wrote: "Rising Butter" sounds like it'd be a super interesting SNK secret boss move. What would that even entail? nyoro~n
It's just a massive hurtbox attached to a stick of butter that ascends from the ground like Banjo's Final Smash
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby Arctangent » 1 week ago

pyro has some nice SUPER LASER PISSS!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby Piesonscreations » 1 week ago

ECS98 wrote: Hey there everyone! I'm new here xD
Well, i accepted raocow's invite, and now i'm officially here for my Dev Commentary on Vanish Castle!
Welcome to the talkhaus!

Also, we should have rankings for the best jokes on the intro screens.
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Re: Vanilla Level Design Contest 11 -- Eleven Ten

Postby FPzero » 1 week ago

9th, Technical Loopholes, by Super Maks 64
84.50/100.00 points (FPzero's favorite)
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 55/60
Creativity: 30/30
Aesthetics: 7/10

Total: 92/100

Comments:
Probably some of the most creative uses for Chucks I've seen in a long time. Their variety of movement patterns, interactions with terrain and large size mixed with non-interactive layer 2 and the screen loop technique made great obstacles you could take the time to learn the patterns for and get past safely. But the screen loop itself is the star of the show and the Chucks are just one great element being used in it. I greatly appreciated that every place where something was going to fall from the sky was marked with an indicator. You could see something was coming and plan for it. And you used a great variety of things falling from the sky all with different ways of moving and interacting with the water bubbles or line guides or 1F0. Chucks, Thwimps, Rocks, line guided platforms, paragoombas, it was all there and each of them had a different way of enriching the level. Was it a tough level? Absolutely. The second half especially started feeling like an endurance run with the two survive sections and three platforming sections. A 1up-checkpoint wouldn't have gone amiss after the first survival segment to be honest. There are places it also could've probably let up a little, but there was something about the high difficulty that would probably make the level feel a bit less special if it wasn't there.

Some things could have been better. In the second half there's a part where you have to wait quite a while for a line guide platform to return but there's no real indication it's coming back other than a guide zigzagging below you. Some of guided platform jumps were real tough too, especially the one at the very end of the first half, and the ones right before the goal. But overall this level was super fun to play through and was very creative. I really enjoyed playing it.
Ryaa:
Design: 42/60
Creativity: 26/30
Aesthetics: 6/10

Total: 76/100

Review:

Not really sure where to start here. I think that this level does really good things but I don't think that this really good things are given the prime spotlight that they deserve. I was a little worried when first entering the level because everything felt really cluttered in the beginning. This feeling stuck around throughout many parts of the entire level as well and it didn't feel very pleasant at points.

I really do appreciate the usage of the "teleportation" mechanic and how to works to make the enemy physics feel almost new and unexpected in a way. It made figuring out a lot of sections pretty fun. I'm not so sure this works very well in the survival sections or the section near the beginning where it starts to spam Chuck rocks and other things at you.

Generally I'm liking this level but I'm not loving it. It has new ideas but executes them in a way that leaves a weird feeling in my mind. I think that this level needs a bit more polish and perhaps a bit more space to feel cleaner and more interesting to space.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 51/60
CREATIVITY| 28/30
AESTHETICS| 6/10
TOTAL | 85/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
it's raining everything

Nice use of the new vanilla vertical wrapping! There are so many clever setups with
continuously falling enemies and platforms, and the level is well restrained in
it's difficulty. It's very action packed and fun.

However, as much as I love all the setups, the midpoint placement makes the level
feel super lopsided. I can see you're trying to make the second half more of a long
gauntlet of increasingly difficult obstacles, but it would have still benefited
from being shorter. The easiest way to do this is to cut the time of the "waiting
for a platform" areas. Yes, I know they are cool and set up such that they are not
boring, but they still stick around for too long.

Despite these shortcomings, I still had a great time with the level. Kudos!
morsel:
53
28
6
87/100
A sort of ugly level but at least its look serves its purpose and it is quite clear what is happening all the time, to wit peculiarly looping sprites. At first, it seems as though the level is itself just looping through the entire spriteset and then some, but things pick up when the focus moves to chucks in the second half. Perhaps you have to wait a bit too long on the circle and in the chuck rooms. The second last platform from the end is a little janky.
8th, Militarized Iceberg, by snoruntpyro
86.25/100.00 points
Scores:
FPzero:
Design: 51/60
Creativity: 30/30
Aesthetics: 7/10

Total: 88/100

Comments:
I think this is a brilliant level that's marred by overambition to the point that the cracks start showing by the end. First off, I don't think you needed any of the stuff after the vertical section. I think had you cut the level there instead of introducing a second midpoint and final cave section, it would've been a wonderful level and ended on a high, strong note. See, the beginning outside introduces the idea that the level is going to be built around sliding while ducking, and starts simply by adding noteblocks, bouncing, and various Bob-ombs as intercepting enemies to the mix. Then the first cave section adds some Growing/Shrinking pipes and moving Layer 2 to the mix. Then the vertical outdoors section adds, well, verticality and wall triangle runs, and holding momentum while you go through it all. This section, as an aside, was definitely my favorite because of the state of "flow" I entered into while playing it. It just felt good to get through, fast and smooth and clever.

But then the final cave section shows up and things start to get iffy. For one, this level is already pretty long by the time it shows up, even accounting for the extra midpoint. But it also doesn't really introduce any truly new concepts to the level and instead just remixes older ones but in harder, slightly more frustrating setups. The Layer 2 that had been used previously as extremely well-timed moving platforms to keep moving forward becomes the fastest smasher around. Suddenly, you have to time things very well or risk missing the jump or even being shoved off the platforms by the smashers. I got past the setup on screens 0D and 0E once, only to die on the final screen of the cave, and then spent the next 15+ lives trying to wedge myself into the hole you gotta fit into to proceed. The Chuck on screen 07 was an endless source of annoyance too, constantly managing to wedge himself in the tunnel that you need to proceed down. Suddenly, the level's timings have gotten much stricter than what came before. Powerups were plentiful, but they didn't do much when I was falling off the bottom more often than not. And I didn't think the final smasher on the exit pipe was necessary at all, just mean-spirited. Yes, I died to it...

Speaking of powerups, the one big flaw with this level is that if you're Small Mario, you basically don't have to participate in the level idea anymore. You can pretty much just skip the sliding setups entirely as long as you can safely get Mario into the sliding tunnel. That said, all the setups do expect that you're sliding through them as far as timing all the elements goes, so I did do my best to keep sliding even small. You can't get the Yoshi Coins if you aren't big, but otherwise there's no real penalty for not sliding like the level expects.

I liked the first 2/3 of this level for being so creative, imaginative and fun to play. I just wish I could've all the parts of the level and not come off it with a sour note. It was an ambitious level that unfortunately didn't know when to quit and suffered a little for it. But don't let that stop you because I seriously loved the ideas the level presented. Just work on perfecting the execution, and don't be afraid to cut parts of the level that might not be truly needed.
Ryaa:
Design: 42/60
Creativity: 22/30
Aesthetics: 8/10

Total: 72/100

Review: This level was very fun to play. I liked the ideas it presented and they were pretty easy to get adjusted to. The palette is nice and the music fits well alongside the other things. Getting to the midpoint was actually pretty simple to do once I got used to the level design in the first section. The second section is where it starts to get a bit questionable.

After reaching the midpoint, I immediately began to enjoy working my way through the second section. It was very engaging and made you have to really think on your feet. My issue here is that this section plus the third is about 2.5x as long as the first section. So if you die, you have to do everything again and the third section makes doing that very annoying at times. In the third section you're introduced to the fast moving layer 2 platforms which get a little weird to time towards the end. I wasn't really a fan of making it through all of that and then dying suddenly because the smashing layer 2 makes exceedingly difficult to make it into the pipe safely.

The level itself did make me feel good for the most part after playing it and I don't think there is anything generally unfair in any way outside of that last pipe before the goal that I mentioned.
FrozenQuills:
-------------------
DESIGN | 55/60
CREATIVITY| 28/30
AESTHETICS| 8/10
TOTAL | 91/100
-------------------

COMMENTS:
where ice cutting site's ice goes

This is a beautiful take on ice sliding. I love how each obstacle gets harder and
harder, to the point of high precision and engagement at the end. Plus, while some
have seen ice sliding gimmicks before, this is a unique perspective on it that
involves 1F0, eater blocks, parachuting bombs, bouncing flames, and layer 2; the
creativity shows for itself.

My few issues are that it is a bit long, and that I think I messed up a few of the
setups. I was blocked by a pipe at one point and I accidentally fell through the
ground. It's also unfortunate that the level is less exciting if you're small.
Luckily, having dragon coins be the reason to stay big is good design.

Despite these small problems, this is pretty amazing and very well designed in its
difficulty.
morsel:
59
26
9
94/100
This was fantastic. You have so much freedom of movement but there is always something to think about. The best thing was that if you hold run and forward and do a big, big jump when you need to jump, you will hit something at the end of that jump. That is the true nintendo quality design. There were memories of a hollow metal heart as I stood still and watched a bomb blow itself and some flames up; positive deja vu as the layer 2 scrolled with para-men coming down. It was an excellent notion to use wall-running with the larger level size. Some minor things. At one part a grey platform you do not actually need does not respawn if you fall down (you can also despawn the moving pipe after). The final part with layer 2 was slightly janky in some ways (you can stand on below the screen layer 2; sometimes jumping up at the smashing ledge kills me; there was one part it was quite easy to naturally reach the smashing layer when it was too late). Altogether, this was so much fun to play--collecting the dragon coins was three minutes of bliss.
As mentioned earlier, Technical Loopholes was my judge favorite level. I just loved how it used the sprite respawning thing, and I especially loved how it would throw enemies of all types at you at different angles to keep you on your toes. The slow platform gliding over 1F0 tiles was weirdly satisfying to see. It was just a super cool, thorough exploration of how to use this mechanic.

Unfortunately, our contests are rarely free of drama and other issues, and while it hadn't come up until now today's the day I have to mention it. When the scores were first posted, pyro's level had placed 5th. But a couple days later it was discovered that Ryaa (and myself for one or two levels) had accidentally included older scores in his final scores on the spreadsheet, and had given pyro an 82/100 when he meant to give her a 72/100. This was obviously not good, and we rectified the scores as soon as we could. But of course, it meant the Top 10 were affected, and pyro dropped three places from 5th to 8th.

I still feel really bad about the situation. :(


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